Fix Scratches on a Wooden Table

Edited by abdoul sow, Adrian Penaflor, Anonymous, Graciela Franchesca Rosario and 7 others

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Wooden tables are often used as kitchen tables or great coffee tables. Many people love the rustic style of old-fashioned or antique furniture. Unfortunately, as time marches on, scratches on tables cannot be avoided, especially if the furniture is made of wood. Wood furniture can be durable, depending on its quality and how hard the wood is, but it is also prone to damages and scratches. Minor scratches can be fixed at home using simple techniques, however, antique wooden furniture, as well as leather furniture, may need to be fixed by professional furniture repair technicians.

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You can repair scratches and slight damages on your wooden table quite easily with some handy "Do It Yourself methods". If you're interested, and want to learn how to fix scratches on wooden table, read the following information, and follow the instructions below:

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Contents
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Causes of Scratches and Other Damages on Wooden Table:

Before learning how to fix scratches on a wooden table, it is very important to know what causes these slight damages to your wooden furniture. By knowing the causes, the next time you buy wooden furniture, either new or antique, you will be able to avoid the damages and scratches that mar the beauty of wooden furniture.

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  1. 1
    Plates and Vases.
    Never slide anything across the wooden surface. Things like plates, glasses, serving dishes, vases, etc. can scratch the surface of your furniture.
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  2. 2
    Liquids.
    Water and other liquids can damage leave water stains on wooden furniture. The liquid spill can destroy the quality of the finish you applied to it. Every time you accidentally spill liquid on your wooden furniture, you should immediately wipe it by blotting it carefully. Being too vigorous can worsen the issue, and the water will just spread all over the surface. Also, do not allow the liquid to get into the wood surface and dry. �"
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  3. 3
    Plastic and Vinyl Materials.
    Many people use plastic and vinyl tablecloths, but what they don't know, is these materials can damage the wood finish. In addition, these materials may leave residue on the surface of your furniture, which can be difficult to remove. Over time, these kinds of tablecloths can also cause discoloration and make the wood surface sticky.
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  4. 4
    Burning Candles.
    Never place candles directly on the surface of your table, as these can melt down and leave wax on the table. The wax from burning candles is hot, and the wax can actually burn the surface of the table. Use a wider candle stand when placing a burning candle on a wooden table. So, when the wax melts, the tray will catch the melting was, and there's no chance of it overflowing onto the table. Another idea is to put the candle on a solid placemat.
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  5. 5
    Hot Items.
    Hot items such as a pot or saucepan removed from the oven or stove and placed on tabletop, can damage the wooden surface. Use a hot pad when placing a hot item on the surface of you wooden table.
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  6. 6
    Damaging UV Rays.
    The Sun's rays are not only harmful to your skin, but also harmful to your wooden furniture. The ultraviolet rays can deteriorate and even bleach the wood, making it prone to scratches and damage. Cover the furniture with a tablecloth or move it away from direct sunlight. You can also tint your Windows so that the UV rays won't get inside the house damaging your furniture. Blinds or curtains will also save your cherished wooden table from sun damage.
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  7. 7
    Poor Finishes.
    Your wooden table may need a more durable finish. Scratches can be coated and smoothed by using the right finish for your wooden table.
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  8. 8
    Poor Choice of Wooden Table.
    There are different wooden tables, made from different types of wood. The two major types are the hardwood and the softwood. Softwood is much more vulnerable to damage because �" well �" it's soft. Scratches and marks penetrate the surface easily. Pine is an example of softwood, where oak is an example of hardwood. Expensive wooden furniture is a great choice because of its quality. Always ask what wood the table is made from.
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Types of Finishes to Apply to a Damaged Wooden Table

Finishes are very important for wooden furniture, as these can protect the surface from harmful substances and damages. There are various types of finishes to choose from. Select one that will give you the most protection from scratches and damage. Scratches can be fixed by coating them with the right durable finish. Without a finish, your wooden table will be prone to a lot more damage, cracks, scratches, and even deterioration, which will make it useless. Here is a list of different kinds of finishes you can use on your wooden table:

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  1. 1
    Penetrating Finishes.
    As the name implies, these penetrate into the wood. They are easier to apply and leave a natural look. Penetrating finishes can provide durability to wooden surface, but not as much as surface finishes can provide. However, penetrating finishes can leave a more natural look. Below are some examples of penetrating finishes:
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    1. Linseed Oil (Flaxseed Oil). This is one of the oldest penetrating finishes. Many people still use this kind of finish, but the only problem of this is that it may become sticky during humid weather. (SEE TIPS & WARNINGS BELOW)
    2. Tung Oil. This is another type of penetrating finish woodworkers love to use, as the oil is easy to apply and gives wood a natural, attractive appearance. Tung oil is perfect to apply to antique furniture.
    3. Danish Oil. This is another type of penetrating oil that gives wooden furniture a lovely satin appearance. It's a water-resistant oil that protects the surface of the wood from liquid spills. Danish oil can also be used as a sealer or a primer to apply on a bare wooden surface before applying a varnish or paint.
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  2. 2
    Surface Finishes.
    These finishes make wooden furniture a lot more durable by protecting it from scratches and other damage. However, surface finishes do not provide the same kind of natural look to the wood, that the penetrating finishes do, but are more durable than the surface finishes. If you use your wooden table daily, you might want to consider the resilience of a surface finish. Below are examples of surface finishes:  
    1. Polyurethane. There are oil and water-based surface finishes. The oil-based polyurethane is a lot more durable than the water-based finishes, as it can tolerate heat. So, it's perfect to use on a wooden table use for dining. The finish can be applied using a natural brush or a synthetic brush, but never use a rag when applying it on to your wooden table. Polyurethane finishes come in varieties, from satin to glossy. They are also used as surface sealants, and coatings.
    2. Shellac. Wooden tables treated with shellac finishes, are more susceptible to heat, and are easily damaged when a hot saucepan, or even hot bowl, is placed on its surface. But, a shellac finish is a natural product, so it is safe to apply to wooden furniture. The good thing about this finish is that it can leave nice amber color when completely dried on your wooden table. However, shellac is not frequently used nowadays because this kind of finish is not able to resist water and other liquid spills. Hence, it is prone to wear or damage. It is, however, good for resisting Sun damage.
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Steps for Applying the Finishes:

Scratches can be covered with finishes. These can help protect your wooden table from further wear, such as scratches and deterioration. Below are few of the good finishes to use for your wooden furniture, and how to use them:

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  1. 1
    Using Tung Oil.
    This oil is good to apply on wooden table with a rag rather than a brush.
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    1. Clean any dust on tabletop with tack cloth.
    2. Shake the oil container and apply a generous amount to a clean cloth.
    3. Rub the cloth onto the wooden table. Add more oil to the cloth when needed.
    4. The more oil you rub into the table, the glossier it will be.
    5. Rub gently and lightly.
    6. Wait for the oil to dry for 10 or more minutes, until it seems sticky.
    7. Wipe off any excess. Wait for a few hours between applying each coat. You should apply four coats of Tung oil to your tabletop to cover all scratches and slight damages. After your wooden table takes on an even gloss, dry it completely in a safe area.
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  2. 2
    Using an Oil-Based Polyurethane (Varnish).
    When applying an oil-based polyurethane to your wooden table, you should use a synthetic or a natural brush. Below are the steps to apply:  
    1. Wipe off any dust on tabletop using tack cloth.
    2. Do not shake the varnish as it can create bubbles that will end up on your wooden surface.
    3. Dip 1/2 inch of your brush into the varnish, and then tap it off to remove excess varnish into the can.
    4. Brush from the middle to the edges of the tabletop to avoid drips and runs. Ask a professional furniture repair technician for the right angle to use when applying polyurethane varnish to wooden furniture.
    5. Smooth Out Bubbles. If there are any bubbles on the wooden surface by tipping them off gently.
    6. Store your brush in a zipper-lock plastic bag and put in the freezer between coats. This will keep your brush from drying out, as you will use it again for the next coat. You can also clean the brush after every coating.
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DIY Methods to Fixing Scratches, Dents, and Dings on a Wooden Table:

Here are DIY methods to fix scratches on a wooden table. Before applying a finish, you should use any methods below to fix scratches and other damages on your wooden furniture.

Method 1: Using a felt-tip marker for Slight Scratches

  1. 1
    Use felt-tip markers specifically made for furniture to color scratches.
    There are different wood tones of markers available at hardware shops or home improvement stores. Only apply the marker to the scratch. If excess spreads to the finished surface, wipe it immediately.
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Method 2: Using Black Tea

Apply Black Tea to Cover Scratches. Don't use green or any herbal teas. Use a black tea because it can create a color suitable for a wood's tone.

  1. 1
    Place the tea bag into a cup, and add 30 ml.
    of hot water into it.
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  2. 2
    Steep for 3 Minutes.
    If your wooden table has a deep dark color, you can steep the tea bag longer than 3 minutes, as it will produce a darker color.
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  3. 3
    Dab on Scratch.
    Soak a cotton swab into the tea and then dab it on the scratch.
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  4. 4
    Contain it to the Scratch.
    If the tea spreads to other areas of the wood, wipe the excess off using paper towels.
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Method 3: Making a Paste Using Instant Coffee:

  1. 1
    Brew Coffee.
    In a bowl, add an adequate amount of hot water to 1 tbsp. of instant coffee in order to create a thick paste. Be careful not to add too much water, to quickly.
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  2. 2
    Mix Well.
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  3. 3
    Apply a generous amount of the paste to the scratch.
    Be careful not to touch the other clean and smooth areas. If the scratch is really small, use a toothpick to carefully apply.
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  4. 4
    Wipe the Excess.
    Wipe the excess of the coffee paste using a dry cloth.
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  5. 5
    Let the scratch dry after applying the solution.
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Method 4: Pumice and Mineral Oil Paste

  1. 1
    Light Scratches.
    Light scratches may be reduced by rubbing them with a pumice and mineral oil paste. This method works best if the paste is lightly rubbed on the scratch using a piece of extra fine-grade steel wool.
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Method 5: Using Iodine

  1. 1
    Dark Wood.
    Scratches on very dark wood can be repaired using iodine. Using a cotton swab, dab the iodine on the scratch. It should disappear.
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Method 6: Using a Hard Paste Wax

  1. 1
    Rub a hard paste wax on the wooden surface using a steel wool.
    You have to rub and stroke it lightly and gently along the grains of the wood.
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  2. 2
    After applying the wax, clean the entire surface using a soft cloth.
    The scratch will then become unnoticeable.
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  3. 3
    If scratches are deeper, furniture wax repair sticks can be used.
    These can be bought at hardware stores. These easy to use wax sticks come in different varieties. Select a shade that matches the wood's color, and then rub the stick on the scratch. It should be rubbed firmly and evenly. Rub it until the scratch is fully coated.
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  4. 4
    Remove the excess using the edge of a hard plastic card.
    Let the wax dry then buff the entire area to create a smooth finish.
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Method 7: Steps on Fixing Dings on a Wooden Table

Dings are Small Chips in Wood Furniture. They are usually caused by a sharp blow. The wood may not actually be affected, so the repair is easy to perform.

  1. 1
    To Fix a Ding.
    Remove any loose finish around or in the area using a sharp craft knife. Be sure to scrape the residue in the damaged area with the flat, sharp edge of the knife, but do not scratch the spot.
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  2. 2
    Carefully feather the edges of the ding using #0000 grade steel wool.
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  3. 3
    Clean the Ding.
    Using a soft cloth moistened with mineral spirits, clean the area and let it dry.
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  4. 4
    Finish.
    Using an artist's brush, apply a new finish to the damaged spot. Finishes can be a shellac, varnish, enamel, polyurethane, or lacquer. But, it is better to use the same finish the rest of the table is treated with.
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  5. 5
    Vanished.
    The damaged spot won't be noticeable. Let it dry once more and clean the fixed area with steel wool.
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  6. 6
    Wax and polish the entire tabletop.
    After doing so, the repaired ding should blend perfectly with the rest of your table.
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Method 8: Fixing Shallow Dings Using Nail Polish


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  1. 1
    Small shallow chips or dings can be filled with a transparent nail polish.
    Apply the nail polish on the damaged area. Once the polish has dried, sand it with 600-grit sandpaper. To restore the glossy appearance of the satin finishes on wooden furniture, rub the damaged area with a steel wool grade # 0000 and then apply a paste wax to it. For finishing touches, you should use a rag and an auto-polishing compound to make it look glossier. Now, you're done.
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Method 9: Using Felt-tip Touch Markers for Dings and Dents


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  1. 1
    For damaged edges and huge scratches, you can use felt-tip touch-up markers.
    These markers come in different colors. Choose the right color for your wooden table. You can use them to even tone of the dings and chips to the rest of the furniture. Apply only on damaged area, and then remove the excess using a soft cloth. Lastly, coat the area with a paste wax.
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Method 10: Cleaning the Entire Wooden Table


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  1. 1
    The damage on your wooden table could be due to stains, dings or scratches.
    The first thing you have to do is to clean the entire table before using any products to fix it. Murphy's oil soap is the perfect cleaning solution for a damaged wooden table, or any table for that matter. If you don't have Murphy's, you can use dishwashing liquid. You need something to remove all the grease, waxes, polishes, and oils that have built up on your table. Now you're ready to fix the dings, dents and scratches on your wooden table, using any of the methods here.
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Method 11: Fixing Deep Scratches or Chips Using Home Tricks

To determine if the wood itself has been penetrated by the damage, the scratch should look lighter than the other areas. In this case, you have to fix and recolor the damage to make it disappear. These are some tricks you can use at home, with things you have around the house:

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Materials that You can Choose from:

  • Shoe polish
  • Nut meat (almonds, walnuts, pecans)
  • Markers
  • Wood stain
  • Colored pencils
  • A small paintbrush
  • Furniture paste wax or polish
  • A cotton swab

Procedure:

  1. 1
    Select the best color that matches the color of your wooden table.
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  2. 2
    Dip a cotton swab or small paintbrush into your chosen coloring agent.
    Other commercial products may come with their own applicators.
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  3. 3
    Coat the scratch with the coloring agent.
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  4. 4
    Repeat the application until the color matches the rest of the furniture.
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  5. 5
    Apply a polish or wax to the damaged surface to keep its glossy appearance.
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Method 12: Removing Scratches in Lacquer or Shellac Finishes

  1. 1
    Materials:
     
    1. A small brush.
    2. Nail polish remover or lacquer thinner.
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  2. 2
    Procedure:
     
    1. Dip the brush into the lacquer thinner.
    2. Lightly brush the surface of the scratch. The thinner will fill in the crack and then soften it.
    3. Let the thinner sit overnight. It will harden the damaged area and the scratch will disappear.
    4. Apply a finish to the repaired area.
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FAQs

What is the most durable finish to use for a wooden table?

The most durable finish to use for a wooden table is the polyurethane. Nowadays, this finish is widely used, especially by woodworkers, because it doesn't just provide a glossy finish, but also gives more durability. What's more, it's easy to apply unlike other finishes. Even those of you not especially handy, will find it easy.

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There are two kinds of polyurethane: The oil-based and the water-based. Both work well, but the oil-based polyurethanes are more durable. The water-based polyurethanes take less time to dry, but is more prone wear and tear. On the other hand, water-based polyurethane dries quickly and smells a lot better than oil-base, but is more susceptible to wear and tear.

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I have a wooden table with a water-based polyurethane finish. What should I avoid to protect my table from damage and scratches?

First and foremost, never slide anything across the tabletop, such as vases, plates, and other heavy objects. These can affect the surface of your wooden table, leaving scratches. Avoid placing something with liquid on it, as someone might accidentally spill it on your wooden tabletop. Don't put a glass or cup on the table that's wet on the bottom. These can cause water damage to your table, making it more prone to scratches. Children love sliding things on tables. You can use place mats under plates and other kitchen tools, to avoid this. Reapply a finish to your wooden table, if it's worth refinishing.

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Is the black coffee method effective in covering scratches on any wooden furniture?

This may be not be recommended by a professional furniture repair technician, however, some who've tried this method have said it works wonders for any "dark" wooden furniture. Black coffee grounds work best to cover scratches. They make them unnoticeable. Make sure you dampen the coffee grounds before applying it to the scratches. Use a q-tip to apply on slight scratches. Let it sit for 10 minutes and wipe it off using a soft cloth. This does work wonders on very dark wood furniture. Do not use this method on light wood furniture as will stain it a darker color. Test a small amount on a slight scratch first, to see if it works. Do not use green tea or herbal teas, because they provide you with different color that isn't suitable for wooden furniture.

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Is it OK to use any iodine for any wooden type of furniture?

Iodine solutions can cover slight scratches. Deep scratches are nearly impossible to hide. If your wooden furniture has slight scratches, you may want to try covering them with an Iodine solution. There are ways to use iodine for any type of wood: For mahogany, you should use new iodine. For cherry or brown mahogany, you should use iodine that has turned a slightly dark brown color. Also, for maple, you should dilute a generous amount of denatured alcohol and a small amount of iodine before applying. Use a fine brush to apply the mixture to the scratch. Begin with a light shade before adding more layers to the scratches. The more layers you apply, the darker it becomes. �" Make sure it blends with the wood's color. After the scratches have been completely hidden, wax or polish the entire table for that finishing touch.

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For deeper scratches, you can use the meat of a walnut or an almond and work it into the scratch. After that, you should finish or polish it to blend it evenly with the rest of the furniture. It will also keep that glossy look.

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Tips and Warnings

  • Linseed Oil (Flaxseed Oil) is highly flammable. It should always be stored in metal containers. When using, you can put a small amount in a plastic container, but otherwise, metal. Any rags soaked with Linseed Oil, should be dried by laying them on a non-flammable, flat surface away from anything flammable or open flames. Suffice it to say, don't smoke cigarettes anywhere near Linseed Oil.
  • Wooden furniture is not supposed to be soaked with liquid of any type. You should use all products sparingly. When drying wooden furniture, use a soft cloth.
  • It is very important to fix a damaged wooden table carefully and slowly. Fix only the dents, scratches, or dings.
  • If you cannot remove the scratches or other damages on your wooden furniture by yourself, get a professional furniture repair technicians to fix it, especially if it's an expensive antique.
  • Be sure to choose the right color of markers and other coloring agents for your wooden table. You can ask the salesperson at the nearest local hard ware stores for suggestions.
  • Be sure to wear protective gloves and other safety apparatus when applying any products to your wooden furniture.
  • Be sure not to place all combustible products near any flammable materials.
  • Always keep harmful products away from children.
  • Read the directions of any products you use �" carefully!
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Questions and Answers

What do I use to put a durable finish on my wooden floors?

I have used several brands, but the shine just wears away quickly.

Oil based polyurethane will have the longest shine but it also takes extra prep to apply, and a few days to dry and cure.

My dining table was scratched last weekend.

I am using walnut oil to help remove the scratch but it is too deep. It worked on a couple of minor scratches on the table, but not the deep scratch. And of course, this scratch is going the opposite direction of the grain.

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Use a felt tip touch up marker in the wood finish (color) closest to the color of your table. These can be found in hardware stores. Apply the stain to the scratch and then and even coat of wax over the table. If your table has a high gloss finish, apply clear nail polish over the marker repair.

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How to repair a scratch on dining room table?

There's a long scratch on my dining room table from dragging a large ceramic piece across the table. What is best way to repair this? I have tried: I used an Old English polish and also one of the colored furniture crayons.

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You can apply wood filler to fill in the scratch and apply the furniture crayon once the wood filler dries.

I have a light wooden table with scratches and cup rings on it. How do I get rid of them?

Scratches have multiplied! I have tried many liquid cleaners, and polishes - even a hair dryer method. I have tried: Furniture polish, hair dryer. I think it was caused by: Hot cups or bowls, moving dishes around without using coasters or a tablecloth.

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Use toothpaste and equal parts baking soda. Rub the paste into the water stains and wipe any excess away. Let the paste dry and apply Vaseline or furniture polish to the area. This should remove your water stains and fill in any slight scratches.

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I just bought a coffee table set. It is real wood.

I just purchased a coffee table set and I noticed a few scratches already. How can I get rid of them? I have tried: Orange Glow. I think it was caused by: Someone putting something on the table.

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I sanded and I stained and we can see the sand scratch?

I sanded and I stained and we can see the sand scratch

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How to remove Stains on Dark brown table and get it back to its color?

Have a dark brown table. Prior owner has candle wax stains along with finger nail polish stains on it. What do I use on the stains to get it back to the dark brown color.. I have tried: Markers- doesn't blend in well with the rest of the table color. I think it was caused by: Prior owner

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